Photographer Rachael Towne
Earning Six Figures Selling Awesome Lightroom Presets
Rather than earn a living as a professional photographer shooting stock photos or pictures of other people’s families, a stay-at-home mom, Rachael Towne has managed to build a name for herself by selling Adobe Lightroom presets.
Towne’s beautifully designed presets were an instant hit with photographers around the world looking for versatile processing options – ranging from subtle and light to dramatic and eye-catching.
According to Towne, most of her time is spent creating – improving her products and the way she displays them. In an interview with Angelina Sereno of Skybox Creative, Towne said marketing is her weakest link, but something she is working on overcoming.
In the beginning, Towne said she spent more time trying to get her brand out, determined to earn a living working from home. She had planned to return to a job painting wine bottles after a maternity leave, but the tragic loss of one of her daughters meant Towne was unable to return to her previous life.
When the twins Towne was carrying were born premature, both were faced with health issues. One of the girls died when she was only seven days old, and the other spent the first three months of her life in the NICU. Towne described the experience as one of the most horrific times of her life, and said by the time she could bring her daughter home, there was no way she would be putting her in daycare and going back to work.
Initially, Towne tried a few things to provide for her family. Blogging didn’t work, but she did get a job writing for a popular photography website. When the opportunity came up for her to try her hand at making Lightroom presets, she jumped at the chance.
Over the past year, Towne has been able to earn more than $100,000 selling premium Lightroom presets, and she is anticipating an even higher income this coming year. She’s also working on another new project, which she expects will double her current income within a few years.
Towne said she’s even been able to support her husband through a career change. He had been working construction, but always wanted to be a practicing artist. Now, thanks to Towne’s success selling presets, he’s building a portfolio of paintings to begin approaching galleries.
Currently, Towne’s products can be purchased through four different sites: Etsy, Adobe Addons, Creative Market, and her own website. This gives Towne a bit of stability; in case one source goes away, she has other options to try and make up the difference. However, she is currently looking at strategies to build more traffic to these sites.
When she first started, Towne used the Google keyword tool to generate traffic, as well as carefully scrutinizing the work her competitors were putting out. She said the time she spent getting to know her competition and her customers was a valuable way to learn more about how she could market her products.
Now that Towne has an established brand, she has more “creative leeway” to create a wider range of products. And, if one doesn’t sell very well, she doesn’t stress about it. Most of her work day is spent taking care of her kids and responding to customer support requests. However, Towne admitted that she is often up until 2 am working on presets.
Her flexible schedule allows her to work late at night after her kids are asleep, and she can structure her entire work-week around the needs of her family. Some weeks, she said, she puts in hours equivalent to a normal full-time job. Other weeks, though, her effort is spent just replying to customer support emails and caring for her family.
Towne also enjoys having the opportunity to continue pursuing photography as a passion. Although she had used a Polaroid Instamatic in the early 80s, Towne didn’t own a camera again until she was 27, and her love of photography developed almost immediately.
Soon after, Towne started taking photography lessons at the local community college and started using a Canon SLR to learn manual control. After purchasing her first DSLR, Towne started selling stock photos online, but having to please inspectors quickly began to frustrate her.
What Towne enjoys most is the challenge of learning and the accompanying sense of accomplishment, not working as a professional in the industry. She said she still has no interest in “going pro,” and plans to maintain her interest as a casual photographer, shooting the moments she wants to capture, instead of what someone else might ask of her.
Towne is hoping to continue to grow her brand and is currently working on expanding to create Photoshop actions and templates, as well as her Lightroom presets. She can be found on social media, although she said she doesn’t spend much time promoting her work on these platforms.
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She has published hundreds of articles and is a regular contributor to various photography websites like PictureCorrect.com and Sleeklens.com.